Совет национальной безопасности (англ. National Security Council, сокращённо СНБ) — консультативный орган при президенте США для решения наиболее важных вопросов национальной безопасности и внешней политики, и координации действий всех основных ведомств, связанных с указанными вопросами.
Совет национальной безопасности был создан в 1947 году законом о национальной безопасности. Его созданию послужила убеждённость влиятельных американских политиков в том, что дипломатия Государственного департамента США больше не была способна сдерживать СССР при напряжённых отношениях между СССР и США. Конечной целью его создания было обеспечение согласованности действий между военно-морскими силами, Корпусом морской пехоты, сухопутными войсками и военно-воздушными силами США.
Заседание СНБ: президент Барак Обама, Госсекретарь Хиллари Клинтон, Министр обороны — Роберт Гейтс, Заместитель начальника ОКНШ — ген. Кэртрайт, директор разведки Деннис Блэр, советник президента Грег Крейг, директор ЦРУ Леон Панетта, заместитель начальника Совета внутренней безопасности Том Донилон, советник президента по национальной безопасности ген. Джеймс «Джим» Джонс и глава президентской администрации Рэм Эмануел
Authored by Paul Craig Roberts via The Strategic Culture Foundation, In the United States «conspiracy theory» is the name given to explanations that differ from those that serve the ruling oligarchy, the establishment or whatever we want to call those who set and control the agendas and the explanations that support the agendas. The explanations imposed on us by the ruling class are themselves conspiracy theories. Moreover, they are conspiracy theories designed to hide the real conspiracy that our rulers are operating. For example, the official explanation of 9/11 is a conspiracy theory. Some Muslims, mainly Saudi Arabians, delivered the greatest humiliation to a superpower since David slew Goliath. They outsmarted all 17 US intelligence agencies and those of NATO and Israel, the National Security Council, the Transportation Safety Administration, Air Traffic Control, and Dick Cheney, hijacked four US airliners on one morning, brought down three World Trade Center skyscrapers, destroyed that part of the Pentagon where research was underway into the missing $2.3 billion, and caused the morons in Washington to blame Afghanistan instead of Saudi Arabia. Clearly, the Saudi Arabians who humiliated America were involved in a conspiracy to do so. Is it a believable conspiracy? The ability of a few young Muslim men to pull off such a feat is unbelievable. Such total failure of the US National Security State means that America was blindly vulnerable throughout the decades of Cold War with the Soviet Union. If such total failure of the National Security State had really occurred, the White House and Congress would have been screaming for an investigation. People would have been held accountable for the long chain of security failures that allowed the plot to succeed. Instead, no one was even reprimanded, and the White House resisted all efforts for an investigation for a year. Finally, to shut up the 9/11 families, a 9/11 Commission was convened. The commission duly wrote down the government’s story and that was the «investigation». Moreover, there is no evidence to support the official conspiracy theory of 9/11. Indeed, all known evidence contradicts the official conspiracy theory. For example, it is a proven fact that Building 7 came down at freefall acceleration, which means it was wired for demolition. Why was it wired for demolition? There is no official answer to this question. It is the known evidence provided by scientists, architects, engineers, pilots, and the first responders who were in the twin towers and personally experienced the numerous explosions that brought down the towers that is described as a conspiracy theory. The CIA introduced the term «conspiracy theory» into public discourse as part of its action plan to discredit skeptics of the Warren Commission report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Any explanation other than the one handed down was debunked as a conspiracy theory. Conspiracy theories are the backbone of US foreign policy. For example, the George W. Bush regime was active in a conspiracy against Iraq and Saddam Hussein. The Bush regime created fake evidence of Iraqi «weapons of mass destruction», sold the false story to a gullible world and used it to destroy Iraq and murder its leader. Similarly, Gaddafi was a victim of an Obama/Hillary conspiracy to destroy Libya and murder Gaddafi. Assad of Syria and Iran were slated for the same treatment until the Russians intervened. Currently, Washington is engaged in conspiracies against Russia, China, and Venezuela. Proclaiming a non-existent «Iranian threat», Washington put US missiles on Russia’s border and used the «North Korean threat» to put missiles on China’s border. The democratically elected leader of Venezuela is said by Washington to be a dictator, and sanctions have been put on Venezuela to help the small Spanish elite through whom Washington has traditionally ruled South American countries pull of a coup and reestablish US control over Venezuela. Everyone is a threat: Venezuela, Yemen, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, tribes in Pakistan, Libya, Russia, China, North Korea, but never Washington. The greatest conspiracy theory of our time is that Americans are surrounded by foreign threats. We are not even safe from Venezuela. The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, NPR, and the rest of the presstitutes are quick to debunk as conspiracy theories all explanations that differ from the explanations of the ruling interests that they serve. Yet, as I write and for some nine months to date, the presstitute media has been promoting the conspiracy theory that Donald Trump was involved in a conspiracy with the president of Russia and Russian intelligence services to hack the US presidential election and place Trump, a Russian agent, in the White House. This conspiracy theory has no evidence whatsoever. It doesn’t need evidence, because it serves the interests of the military/security complex, the Democratic Party, the neoconservatives, and permits the presstitutes to show lavish devotion to their masters. By endless repetition a lie becomes truth. There is a conspiracy, and it is against the American people. Their jobs have been offshored in order to enrich the already rich. They have been forced into debt in a futile effort to maintain their living standards. Their effort to stem their decline by electing a president who spoke for them is being subverted before their eyes by an utterly corrupt media and ruling class. Sooner or later it will dawn on them that there is nothing they can do but violently revolt. Most likely, by the time they reach this conclusion it will be too late. For the gullible and naive who have been brainwashed into believing that any explanation that differs from the officially-blessed one is a conspiracy theory, there are available online long lists of government conspiracies that succeeded in deceiving the people in order that the governments could achieve agendas that the people would have rejected. If liberty continues to exist on earth, it will not be in the Western world. It will be in Russia and China, countries that emerged out of the opposite and know the value of liberty, and it will be in those South American countries, such as Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia that fight for their sovereignty against American oppression. Indeed, as historians unconcerned with their careers are beginning to write, the primary lesson in history is that governments deceive their peoples. Everywhere in the Western world, government is a conspiracy against the people.
First it was Preibus, then Kushner and now General H.R. McMaster. Breitbart has seemingly waged war on many of President Trump's closest advisors over the past several months but it seems that the only person they're actually hurting is their former Executive Chair, Steve Bannon. As Politico notes this morning, whether true or not, every time Breitbart drops a negative article on the White House, all eyes turn to Bannon. “Fair or not, common sense would dictate that Steve Bannon has reach and influence and communication with these alt-right platforms whose editorial bent more often than not, aligns with Steve’s agenda,” said Kurt Bardella, a former Breitbart spokesperson. “I think [the stories] gave ammunition to his detractors internally, to either ID him or his people as part of the problem.” “The guy is desperately trying to lay low and keep his fights from spilling out into the public,” said one White House official. “Because he knows that he gets blamed.” A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment. Bannon declined to comment. A Wall Street Journal editorial earlier this week also accused Bannon of using Breitbart and other conservative media outlets to go after his ideological foes, questioning his loyalty to the president and placing blame for White House dysfunction squarely on his shoulders. Meanwhile, the attacks on McMaster have put Bannon in an especially awkward position with his new boss, retired Marine general John Kelly, who has been increasingly defensive of McMaster, a longtime friend and fellow general. According to Politco, McMaster, who pushed Bannon off the National Security Council principals’ committee, hasn’t spoken to Bannon in weeks. But it's not just McMaster, whether true or not, a similar blame game played out when Breitbart targeted Jared Kushner earlier this year. The same dynamic played out with Breitbart’s coverage of Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, which remained negative even after Kushner and Bannon came to a truce at Mar-a-Lago in April. The site has routinely published updates on his role in the Russia probe and been critical of his efforts to craft foreign policy or drive government innovation. “Do you think Steve wanted Breitbart putting bad stuff out there about Jared? No, because he knows he’s going to have to pay for it,” said a White House staffer. Of course, it's not just Breitbart stories that Bannon takes the blame for at the White House as responsibility for any and all conservative media also falls on his shoulders. When he joined the administration, Bannon filed an ethics waiver so that he could continue to communicate with Breitbart. But it’s not just Breitbart stories that Bannon gets blamed for. When gotnews.com and blogger Mike Cernovich’s call deputy national security adviser Dina Powell and National Economic Council director Gary Cohn “globalists,” all eyes were on Bannon, who privately coined the term. “Bannon is being portrayed as the puppeteer behind right-wing media picking and choosing between who they like and don’t like,” said the White House official. In the first two months of the administration, Bannon’s early disagreements with Priebus were a regular Breitbart storyline, often painting both men in a negative light. In February, Bannon publicly called a Breitbart piece attacking Priebus “totally absurd,” telling the Daily Beast in February that he was furious with Washington political editor Matt Boyle over it. But anti-Priebus stories remained a regular feature on Breitbart until his dismissal last month. Breitbart defenders said these stories were a sign of their independence from Bannon. So, what say you? Is Steve Bannon's time in the White House drawing to a close or is this just one more inaccurate, premature prediction of his demise by a mainstream media that so eagerly desires that outcome?
The S&P has caught a bid, and is now down just 0.1%, with the Nasdaq similarly wiping out most early losses, following a report that contrary to previous speculation that Trump's bombastic "fire and fury" statement was a coordinated and pre-agreed upon indication of intent from the entire White House, it was in fact improvised. As the NYT writes, "President Trump delivered his “fire and fury” threat to North Korea on Tuesday with arms folded, jaw set and eyes flitting on what appeared to be a single page of talking points set before him on the conference table at his New Jersey golf resort. The piece of paper, as it turned out, was a fact sheet on the opioid crisis he had come to talk about, and his ominous warning to Pyongyang was entirely improvised." The NYT also adds that "in discussions with advisers beforehand, he had not run the specific language by them", which has prompted a modest relief rally as it now appears that Trump's widely reported statement was just another ad hoc outburst - in line with his daily Twitter rants - and one which will likely be moderated in future appearances after feedback from Trump's advisors. To be sure, in the hours since, the president’s advisers have already sought to calm the situation, with Rex Tillerson assuring Americans that they “should sleep at night” without worrying about an imminent war, as we reported earlier. As for the advisory split on how to handle North Korea, the NYT notes that that the president’s aides are "divided with national security veterans like Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, on one side and Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, and his allies on the other." While General McMaster and others consider North Korea a pre-eminent threat that requires a tough response, Mr. Bannon and others in the nationalist wing argue that it is really just a subset of the administration’s conflict with China and that Mr. Trump should not give more prominence to an unstable rogue operator like Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader. Mr. Bannon’s allies in the alt-right media and activist groups have been waging a ferocious public attack against General McMaster, characterizing him as soft on issues like Iran, Israel and terrorism and promoting a hashtag #FireMcMaster. They are angry that General McMaster has pushed out several hard-liners associated with Mr. Bannon from the National Security Council staff. Mr. Trump came to General McMaster’s defense last week with a statement expressing confidence in him. Still, according to the report, the one voice pushing for a North Korean de-escalation is that of Steve Bannon who has been arguing against what his side considers the excessively militant approach of the “war party” of General McMaster. As a result, while Trump's comment may have been indeed improvised, it merely reflect the will of both McMaster and Kelly, something we predicted two weeks ago when we commented on the appointment of Trump's new Chief of Staff. Furthermore, while Bannon has his own channel to the president, he has been shut out of most formal discussions of North Korea by the national security team. In any case, neither camp advocated language like “fire and fury,” according to the NYT sources. Among those taken by surprise, they said, was John F. Kelly, the retired four-star Marine general who has just taken over as White House chief of staff and has been with the president at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., for his working vacation. Whatever the politics behind the White House split on North Korea, stocks have taken the news in stride and as the VIX taking a hit, both the S&P and the Nasdaq have risen to session lows, even as the Dow continues to feel the pain from yesterday's Disney breakup with Netflix.
A global punitive campaign on North Korea propelled by sharp new U.N. sanctions - amounting to a $1 billion ban on North Korea exports - received a welcome, and unexpected, boost on Sunday from China, the North's economic lifeline, when Beijing slammed its neighbor for its ongoing missile and nuclear tests. The Saturday sanctions agreed to unanimously in a 15-0 Security Council vote are aimed at cutting North Korean exports by about $1 billion a year, a move that would hit laborers and fishermen. Existing joint ventures would be prevented from expanding their operations. The new sanctions could cut off roughly one-third of North Korea's estimated $3 billion in annual exports, ostensibly denying the nation of funds for its weapons programs. All countries are now banned from importing North Korean coal, iron, lead and seafood products, and from letting in more North Korean laborers whose remittances help fund Kim Jong Un's regime. U.N. Security Council members vote on toughening sanctions on North Korea in New York, on Aug. 5. However, what was most remarkable about the vote is that both China and Russia backed it, siding - for the first time in a long while - with the US on matters of foreign policy. And, as Bloomberg summarizes, just days after geopolitical events looked bleak at the start of last week when leaders of the world’s biggest economies appeared set on collision course after North Korea’s second ICBM text in a matter of weeks prompted Trump to lash out at China on Twitter, followed by reports that his administration was getting ready to take steps that could lead to a trade war, all that changed with the "breakthrough" vote at the United Nations on Saturday. “It’s enough to give the administration some new hope that it can work with China on North Korea and trade,” said former senior director for Asia at the National Security Council, Dennis Wilder. Additioanlly, the move would “almost certainly” defuse rising tensions of an imminent trade war, and stop the U.S. from imposing secondary sanctions on China, and may delay a planned investigation into intellectual property theft. President Trump was delighted, tweeting on Saturday afternoon that "The United Nations Security Council just voted 15-0 to sanction North Korea. China and Russia voted with us. Very big financial impact!" Even, one of Trump's most vocal critics, former US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul congratulated Trump on his "genuine foreign policy achievement": Congratulations @realDonaldTrump . This vote is a genuine foreign policy achievement. https://t.co/eNQ0GU5uV7 — Michael McFaul (@McFaul) August 5, 2017 That said, some remained skeptical: as AP adds, the Trump administration cautiously embraced China's apparent newfound cooperation, while putting it on notice that the U.S. would be watching closely to ensure it didn't ease up on North Korea if and when the world's attention is diverted elsewhere. But there were no signs the U.S. would acquiesce to China's call for a quick return to negotiations. Though Beijing repeated its call for the United States and North Korea to resume talks, the U.S. said that was still premature, and rejected yet again a Chinese call for the U.S. to freeze joint military exercises with South Korea in exchange for the North halting nuclear development. Pyongyang views the military exercises as rehearsals for an invasion. The U.S. also warned it planned to rigorously monitor China's compliance with the new penalties. Susan Thornton, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia, said Beijing had historically cooperated with sanctions after flagrant North Korean violations but then slipped back over time. "We want to make sure China is continuing to implement fully the sanctions regime," Thornton told reporters in Manila. "Not this kind of episodic back and forth that we've seen." Far from going above and beyond, China - North Korea’s main ally and trading partner - has been regularly accused of failing to fully implement previous UN resolutions. After North Korea’s second ICBM test on July 27, the U.S. called China and Russia “economic enablers” of Kim’s regime. China has sought to cool tensions on the Korean Peninsula, particularly as Trump administration officials warn that war is possible to stop Kim from acquiring the ability to hit the U.S. mainland with a nuclear weapon. China sees the collapse of Kim’s regime as a greater strategic threat that could lead to a refugee crisis and U.S. troops on its border. Caveats aside, for the U.S., it was a long-awaited sign of progress for Trump's strategy of trying to enlist Beijing's help to squeeze North Korea diplomatically and economically. Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, urged the North to "maintain calm" despite the U.N. vote. At a meeting on Sunday in Manila, where top diplomats from more than 20 countries are gathering, China’s Wang made clear that the goal of the sanctions was to push North Korea toward dialogue. He met separately with both North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, urging both to reduce tensions. Address North Korea, in an unusually direct admonition Wang said "Do not violate the U.N.'s decision or provoke international society's goodwill by conducting missile launching or nuclear tests," Wang also urged North Korea on Sunday to make a "smart decision": "It will help the DPRK to make the right and smart decision," Wang told reporters, after discussing the sanctions with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Hong-Yo ahead of a regional security forum in the Philippine capital Manila. However, Wang also emphasised that negotiations were the only way to solve the issue, after the United States had left open the possibility of military action against Kim Jong-Un's regime. Wang called for a resumption of the stalled six-nation talks - hosted by China and including the United States, Japan, Russia as well as the two Koreas - aimed at curtailing the North's atomic ambitions. "It's not that easy but it is a direction we need to work together towards," Wang said of the six-nation talks. "Only dialogue and negotiation is the correct way out to address the Korean peninsula issue." Wang said he also spoke with Tillerson about the need to work together to make Trump’s upcoming visit to China maintain “the momentum of healthy development” and help shape Sino-U.S. relations over the next 50 years. China has repeatedly proposed that North Korea halt further nuclear and missile tests in return for the U.S. and its allies suspending military exercises in the region - a so-called freeze-for-freeze. The U.S. rejects this, saying that Kim must be prepared to give up his nuclear weapons entirely - a prospect that many analysts view as unlikely since Kim sees them as essential to his survival. * * * Still, while the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang expressed confidence on Sunday that the sanctions would bring Kim Jong Un back to the negotiating table, many North Korea watchers are skeptical that he’ll give up his quest for an ICBM that can hit the U.S. with a nuclear weapon. China will still be providing Kim’s regime with food and fuel, and North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is already in an advanced stage. “The new sanctions alone are probably insufficient to alter North Korean behavior,” said Wilder, who was also a former Chinese military analyst at the CIA. “But if Beijing quietly imposes more unilateral sanctions, such as on fuel shipments to North Korea, the North Koreans would be forced to reconsider further ICBM testing.” “The situation is now in a deadlock because of the U.S. mindset,” said Shi Yuanhua, a professor who researches Korea at Fudan University in Shanghai. The sanctions are more “a gesture of condemnation rather than an effective tool to solve the real problem.” As for Xi and Trump, this is just "the latest twist in a relationship that lurches from good to bad seemingly in the time it takes to write a 140-character tweet", as Bloomberg colorfully puts it. In other words, concerns about an imminent trade war appear put on the back burner thanks to China's UNSC vote on Saturday.... for now. “The Trump administration has made it explicit that there is a constant trade-off between trade issues and North Korea,” said John Delury, an associate professor of Chinese studies at Yonsei University in Seoul. “It would appear President Trump is happy with Xi Jinping now, but it wouldn’t be surprising in a matter of weeks for a tweet to say now he’s disappointed again.” Meanwhile, the best single indicator whether North Korean has taken the Chinese - and UN - hint, will be whether it refrains from any more ICBM launches. Naturally, the next time Pyongyang launches something, Trump will be there, ready and tweeting, as the specter of trade war between China and the US comes back with a bang.
"Stop Bickering, Get in Early, Make an Appointment." That's how the WSJ summarizes the new White House protocol implemented by Trump's new Chief of Staff, Gen. John Kelly, appointed just one week ago, and who has been tasked with what many believe is impossible: restoring order to the White House. It's already working. According to an anecdote relayed by the journal, earlier this week, a small group of senior officials talked with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office about plans to take on Beijing over intellectual-property theft. When a side debate broke out between two top aides, the new White House chief of staff ordered the pair out of the room. Return, John Kelly told them, once your differences are resolved, according to a person familiar with the exchange. The move kept the meeting on track. It also signaled to top staff that Mr. Kelly, a retired four-star general, planned to bring new order and discipline to a West Wing that has been riven for six months with division and disorganization, a move which has been cheered by many on Wall Street - notably Citi - who believe that Kelly's arrival could mark a new phase for the heretofore chaotic, disorganized presidency and which may even lead to Trump's successful passage of his proposed tax reform. Other signs of Mr. Kelly’s taking the reins, the WSJ reports, include the end of the unchecked flow of paperwork that crosses the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, and a new, more formal process for meeting with the president. The marine veteran has, predictably, already imposed an army-like atmosphere: Running one of his first senior staff meetings, Mr. Kelly laid down clear lines of authority and ordered aides to stay in their lanes. Discussions with senators, U.S. House members or others on Capitol Hill must be reported to the White House’s legislative affairs director, Marc Short. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Mr. Kelly said, must know about meetings with foreign diplomats. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster this week removed from the National Security Council its senior director for intelligence programs, Ezra Cohen-Watnick. Mr. McMaster had sought to fire him earlier this year, but the move was blocked by the president, according to one administration official. This week, Mr. McMaster informed Mr. Kelly before taking the step, and the new chief of staff didn’t object, according to an administration official. A second official said the move was a sign Mr. Kelly had no plans to micromanage staff. Mr. Kelly moved senior staff meetings to 8 a.m., instead of 8:45, and holds them around the long mahogany table of the Roosevelt Room. His predecessor, Mr. Priebus, held the meetings in his office, where the television was often turned on and where staff could often redirect the discussion away from the agenda. More importantly, Kelley has finally imposed much-needed discipline in what has been the weakest link of the Trump administration: the flow of constantly leaking information: Among the clearest changes since Mr. Kelly’s arrival is a more careful review of information, from statements of fact to news reports, before it goes to the president’s desk, a White House official said. News articles and policy proposals will first be run through Mr. Kelly, in part to reduce the risk of erroneous material appearing on the presidential Twitter feed. Mr. Kelly is also cracking down on what the White House official calls “paper”—unsolicited policy ideas that have made it to the president’s desk, and sometimes into his public statements, without serious review by his top-level staff. Best of all, nobody will be spared Kelly's rules: they extend to Trump’s family, including son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump, who serve as official advisers in the White House and have their own staffs; both now report to Kelly instead of directly to the president, as does Steve Bannon. Better yet, staffers no longer loiter outside an open Oval Office door, hoping to catch the president’s eye to be waved in for a chat or the chance to pitch a new idea. That door is now closed. In true army fashion, aides can’t linger outside the chief of staff’s office, either. White House staff waiting to see Mr. Kelly—or other senior advisers in nearby suites—are asked to remain in the lobby, where White House visitors sit on couches and can read a selection of daily newspapers. In an amazing development, Kelly’s new process is said to have has slowed the president’s use of Twitter. As reported on Wednesday, the chief of staff also reassured Attorney General Jeff Sessions he isn’t on the verge of being fired, after sustained public criticism by the president, and he has instructed the often-feuding factions in the White House to “get their act together” before bringing an issue before the commander-in-chief. “Everyone in the White House likes referring to him as ‘General,’” said former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of the 67-year-old chief of staff, describing a “sense of relief” in the West Wing this week. So is Kelly the now de facto "shadow president", perhaps the only figure of authority whom Trump will listen? Perhaps, although the question now is whether or for how long the new discipline can last. The president is described by friends and critics alike as reveling in chaos and enjoying public competition among his top advisers, as the recent revolving door fiasco involving Sean Spicer and Anthony Scaramucci demonstrated. So strict is the new "General", that some are already betting on Kelly's downfall. “The problem here is that he won’t have anyone to talk to, and he’ll get frustrated,” said one person who regularly speaks with Mr. Trump. “I give General Kelly four months.” Needless to say, Kelly’s success, or failure, will determine whether the White House can successfully pursue its agenda, which has stalled amid a tumultuous period in Washington unlike any other recent presidency. In the latest Quinnipiac survey, Trump’s approval rating crashed to a new low, even as the president faces an intensifying probe into his alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. * * * Whether he is gone in just a few months or not, there are sadly limits to what Kelly can control, with Trump’s Twitter account the most visible example. While the president tweeted less this week, on Thursday morning he criticized Congress’s passage of sanctions against Russia. The message contradicted Vice President Mike Pence, who, two days earlier, said the sanctions bill showed Mr. Trump and Congress were “speaking with a unified voice.” Additionally, while Kelly can direct the president’s schedule, he will likely struggle to contain Trump’s penchant for picking up the phone and calling his roster of longtime friends from New York. As the WSJ observes, “it wouldn’t work to try to isolate President Trump. He would rebel against that,” Rudy Giuliani said. “General Kelly has to balance on the one hand an orderly process, and on the other hand an orderly process that doesn’t in any way isolate the president.” Despite protests that Kelly is not there to babysit Trump, many are hoping that's precisely what he will do: A White House official said Mr. Kelly has been “very clear that he’s here to manage the staff, not to manage the president.” His efforts to control the information and advisers reaching the president are to ensure Mr. Trump is “being properly staffed.” the official said. Kelly - who grew up in Boston and served as chief of the U.S. Southern Command, the division that oversees U.S. military activities south of Mexico, including Central America, South America and the Caribbean - has said he hadn’t met the president until Priebus, the man he ultimately replaced, called after Trump’s November election victory to gauge his interest becoming the new president’s secretary of Homeland Security. He took the job and soon joined Trump’s inner circle, becoming one of the few cabinet secretaries who frequently dines with the president. To be sure, for now at least, Trump appears in awe of the General. Trump was impressed by Mr. Kelly’s presentations at DHS, at times describing him as “a killer.” He is also taken, said one official, by the “presence” of his chief of staff, who stands about 6-foot-2 and tends to dominate the room. Mr. Trump had offered Mr. Kelly the chief of staff job in the spring, officials said, but Mr. Kelly declined at that time. Unlike the drama that seems to follow Trump everywhere he goes, people who have known Mr. Kelly for years describe his style as no-nonsense. He introduces himself on phone calls and in emails to people he knows simply as “Kelly.” “If you’re in a 10-minute meeting with him, he’ll be quiet for the first nine minutes," listening before making a decision or a pronouncement, said one person close to him. “You’re starting to see a different flow, a different discipline,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters on Thursday. Mr. Mulvaney said when he has spoken with Mr. Trump by phone this week, the chief of staff has also been on the line. With Trump departing today for a two week vacation, Kelly will have some time to familiarize himself with the White House chaos and improve his tactics. Mr. Kelly’s new system is a work in progress, the White House official said. White House staffers expect final decisions about how the West Wing will run under Mr. Kelly to be set more firmly in place later this month. Mr. Trump is sure to see at least one issue resolved when he returns: A new air-conditioning system is set to be installed in the White House while the president is out of town. * * * Not everyone is excited by the recent transitions. Some, such as the New Republic, are very concerned what the sudden rise to power by two generals - Kelly and McMaster - in the White House means: Where the generals haven’t been empowered to run the show, they have asserted themselves nonetheless. “In the earliest weeks of Trump’s presidency,” the Associated Press reported Tuesday, Mattis and Kelly agreed “that one of them should remain in the United States at all times to keep tabs on the orders rapidly emerging from the White House.” It would be sensationalizing things to call this a soft coup, but it is impossible to deny that real presidential powers have been diluted or usurped. Elected officials have decided that leaving the functioning of the government to unelected military officers is politically preferable to invoking constitutional remedies that would require them to vote. And, of course, they bring up the famous 25th Amendment: When a president can no longer serve faithfully, there are means available to Congress and the cabinet, through the impeachment power and section four of the 25th Amendment, to remove him. The conclusion: "If you fear the creep of autocracy or the crisis of absentee leadership in Trump’s White House, then the truly troubling thing isn’t that government officials, current and former, are sounding the alarm. It’s that the people who have the power to end these crises are leaving us all at risk by placing their faith in generals looking the other way." Whether Kelly's arrival is a "soft coup", and means that the US is increasingly in the hands of the military, as some suggest, remains to be seen. However, it has become increasingly obvious that the current chaotic status quo was becoming dangerously unsustainable. Maybe generals in the White House is just what Trump needed. On the other hand, there are countless examples in history where this type of soft power transition has ended very badly, especially for foreign countries . Someone who is, or should be, most concerned by the arrival of the "General", is North Korea's Kim Jong Un, for patently obvious reasons. The next time the Trump admin needs a major distraction, Kim's survival chances will be lower than the Vix.
It will probably not come as a surprise that days after the biggest shake up among White House communications personnel, the Washington Post obtained transcripts of President Trump's classified calls with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull from the early days of his presidency back in January. While details of the calls had been made public previously, this is the first time entire transcripts have leaked out. Back then, when the biggest issue on Trump's domestic policy plate was the issue of the "Great Wall" across the Mexican border, and the fate of refugees coming into the US, which eventually led to various lawsuits blocking Trump's immigration and travel ban from several mostly Muslim countries, the president expressed frustration over accepting refugees from Australian detention centers under a humanitarian deal negotiated by the Obama administration and candidly discussed the Mexican border wall, telling the Mexican president "If you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that." One of the funniest lines: "On the wall, you and I both have a political problem. My people stand up and say, 'Mexico will pay for the wall,' and your people probably say something in a similar but slightly different language." In a line likely to surprise some Trump supporters, the president described the wall as "the least important thing we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important." On the sensitive issue of payment, Trump told the Mexican president "you cannot say that to the press,” urging him to refrain from the public statements because of the political damage it would impose on Trump. He also asked Nieto not to oppose Trump's demand that Mexico pay for the wall, telling him the funding would "come out in the wash, and that is okay." Trump said both he and Nieto should say they “will work it out” when forced to answer questions about the wall. Nieto pushed back at Trump's demands, saying the wall was "an issue related to the dignity of Mexico and goes to the national pride of my country.” He ultimately said he would “stop talking about the wall” but did not agree in anyway that Mexico would pay for its construction. Since the call, Trump has continued to publicly say that Mexico would pay for the wall when he has been asked about it, even as the government has taken steps to fund it in different ways. The House has included $1.6 billion in funding for the wall in an appropriations measure under consideration by Congress. Democrats oppose including any more for the way in appropriations measures. In another controversial exchange with the Mexican leader over the drug problem in the US and Mexico, Trump said "We have a massive drug problem where kids are becoming addicted to drugs because the drugs are being sold for less money than candy. I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den." In a separate phone call, Trump told Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull earlier this year that he had a better call with Russian President Vladimir Putin before ending a contentious phone call. Trump argued with Turnbull over an agreement on refugees the U.S. president thought was unfair during their first conversation following his inauguration. “I have had it,” Trump told his Australian counterpart during the Jan. 28 call, according to the same leaked transcript. “I have been making these calls all day, and this is the most unpleasant call all day.” Some other Turnbull call highlights: "This is going to kill me. I am the world's greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people." "I hate taking these people. I guarantee you they are bad. That is why they are in prison right now. They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people." Aside from embarrassing the president, the leaks present a major headache for Gen. Kelly, Trump's new chief of staff, who is expected to bring back normalcy to the Oval cabinet. As The Hill notes, the disclosure is likely to raise alarms at the White House, which has struggled to contain leaks of classified and sensitive information. As Axios adds, the calls remain classified, so the fact that the transcripts made it to the Post is a serious issue. Both documents include notes that the transcripts had been reviewed by Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg Jr., the chief of staff for the National Security Council. Trump’s calls with foreign leaders have not been declassified. The White House said in February, days after the call, it would probe how the details of the call became public
Content originally published at iBankCoin.com The noose is tightening... Ben Rhodes, former aide to President Obama, is a "person of interest" in the House Intel Committee's unmasking investigation, according to Sara Carter of Circa News. Former Obama White House National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes is now an emerging as a person of interest in the House Intelligence Committee’s unmasking investigation, according to a letter sent Tuesday by the committee to the National Security Agency (NSA). This adds Rhodes to the growing list of top Obama government officials who may have improperly unmasked Americans in communications intercepted overseas by the NSA, Circa has confirmed. House Intel Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) reportedly sent a letter to the NSA requesting information on the number of 'unmasking' requests Rhodes made between Jan 1, 2016 and Jan 20, 2017, and have requested that the information be made available to the committee no later than August 21. All Rhodes lead to jail? If the unmasking rumors are true, Rhodes - a former deputy national security advisor under Obama, is in deep shit - joining a list of Obama admin officials included in the House Intel Committee probe, along with former CIA director John Brennan, Susan Rice, and former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power. A letter sent last week from Nunes to Trump's director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, suggested that hundreds of unmasking requests were made during the 2016 presidential elections. Per Circa: The story, which was first reported by The Hill last week, stated that the requests were made without specific justifications as to why the unmasking was necessary. Rice and Brennan have confirmed they sought the unredacted names of Americans in NSA-sourced intelligence reports but insisted their requests were routine parts of their work and had no nefarious intentions. Power also has legal authority to unmask officials, though the practice has not reportedly been common for someone in her position. Last week, the Washington Examiner reported that Ben Rhodes sat down with the House Intelligence Committee, the same day Jared Kushner apparently dazzled them with his performance. It was already known that Jared Kushner, top adviser and son-in-law to President Trump, on Tuesday spoke with members of the panel, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to the Trump campaign. CNN’s Manu Raju tweeted Tuesday evening that the network’s chief political analyst Gloria Borger had learned that Rhodes also spoke to the committee. The Intelligence Committee is investigating intelligence leaks, and Rhodes has become a person of interest for certain Republicans as someone who may be playing a role in the leaking of classified information from the Trump administration to reporters. This news follows a report that Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) named Ben Rhodes as the creator of an 'in-house echo chamber' meant to mislead reporters and the public about President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, stating “Any Obama holdover at any of these agencies, you’ve got to get them out of there because clearly they’re not on the same team and particularly on the [White House] National Security Council," adding “I think Congress and some members of the Intelligence Committee can call Ben Rhodes to testify . . . He may be able to invoke executive privilege from when Obama was president but he definitely can’t do that in any interactions he’s had since then." -Washington Free Beacon Obama Aide Ben Rhodes will look great in an Orange jumpsuit #Busted #Unmasking #Jailtime — Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) August 2, 2017 Follow on [email protected] to our YouTube channel
Authored by David Stockman via AntiWar.com, Most of the Donald’s tweets amount to street brawling with his political enemies, but occasionally one of them slices through Imperial Washington’s sanctimonious cant. Indeed, Monday evening’s 140 characters of solid cut right to the bone: The Amazon Washington Post fabricated the facts on my ending massive, dangerous, and wasteful payments to Syrian rebels fighting Assad….. Needless to say, we are referencing not the dig at the empire of Bezos, but the characterization of Washington’s anti-Assad policy as "massive, dangerous and wasteful". No stouter blow to the neocon/Deep State "regime change" folly has ever been issued by an elected public official. Yet there it is – the self-composed words of the man in the Oval Office. It makes you even want to buy some Twitter stock! Predictably, the chief proponent of illegal, covert, cowardly attacks on foreign governments via proxies, mercenaries, drones and special forces, Senator McWar of Arizona, fairly leapt out of his hospital bed to denounce the President’s action: “If these reports are true, the administration is playing right into the hands of Vladimir Putin.” That’s just plain pathetic because the issue is the gross stupidity and massive harm that has been done by McCain’s personally inspired and directed war on Assad – not Putin and not Russia’s historic role as an ally of the Syrian regime. Since 2011, Senator McCain has been to the region countless times. There he has made it his business to strut about in the manner of an imperial proconsul – advising, organizing and directing a CIA recruited, trained and supplied army of rebels dedicated to the overthrow of Syria’s constitutionally legitimate government. At length, several billions were spent on training and arms, thereby turning a fleeting popular uprising against the despotic Assad regime during the 2011 "Arab spring" into the most vicious, destructive civil war of modern times, if ever. That is, without the massive outside assistance of Washington, Saudi Arabia and the emirates, the Syrian uprising would have been snuffed out as fast as it was in Egypt and Bahrain by dictators which had Washington’s approval and arms. As it has happened, however, Syria’s great historic cities of Aleppo and Damascus have been virtually destroyed – along with its lesser towns and villages and nearly the entirety of its economy. There are 400,000 dead and 11 million internal and external refugees from an original population of hardly 18 million. The human toll of death, displacement, disease and disorder which has been inflicted on this hapless land staggers the imagination. Yet at bottom this crime against humanity – there is no other word for it – is not mainly Assad’s or Putin’s doing. It can be properly described as "McCain’s War" in the manner in which (Congressman) Charlie Wilson’s War in Afghanistan during the 1980’s created the monster which became Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda. Even the fact that the butchers of ISIS were able to establish a temporary foothold in the Sunni villages and towns of the Upper Euphrates portion of Syria is the direct doing of McCain, Lindsay Graham and their War Party confederates in the Congress and the national security apparatus. That’s because Syria’s air force and army would have stopped ISIS cold when it invaded in 2014 if it had not been weakened and beleaguered by Washington’s oppositions armies. But why did Washington launch McCain’s War in the first place? The government of Syria has never, ever done harm to the American homeland. It has no military capacity to attack anything much beyond its own borders – including Israel, which could dispatch Assad’s aging air force without breaking a sweat. Moreover, even if a purely sectarian civil war in this strategically irrelevant land was any of Imperial Washington’s business, which it isn’t, Senator McCain and his War Party confederates have been on the wrong side from the get-go. The Assad regime going back to the 1970 was Arab Baathist – a form of nationalistic and anti-colonial socialism that was secular and inclusive in its religious orientation. Indeed, as representatives of the minority Alawite tribes (15% of the population, at best), the Assad regime was based on Syria’s non-Sunni Arab minorities – including Christians, Druze, Kurds, Jews, Yazidis, Turkomans, and sundry others. Never once did the Assad’s seek to impose religious conformity – to say nothing of the harsh regime of Sharia Law and medieval religious observance demanded by the Sunni jihadists. The point is, the Syrian opposition recruited by Washington for McCain’s War exploited the grievances of ordinary Sunni citizens, but it was led by radical jihadist military commanders. Washington’s endless charade of "vetting" these opposition fighters to ensure that aid only went to "moderates" was a sick joke. Such moderates as existed were mainly opportunistic politicians who operated far from the battle in Turkish safe havens – or even from temporary residences in the beltway. It is a proven fact that most of the weapons supplied by the CIA and the gulf states were either sold to the Nusra Front and other jihadist factions or ended up in their hands when the CIA’s "moderate" trainees defected to the radicals. So the question recurs. Why did Washington embark on this tremendous, pointless folly? The answer is straight forward. Washington has become an Imperial City populated by a permanent class of sunshine patriots and self-appointed global field marshals like Senator McCain, who do the bidding of the military/industrial complex and its far-flung Warfare State apparatus. That is, they identify and demonize the enemies and villains that are needed to keep the money flowing into the Empire’s $700 billion budget. In this case, Assad drew the short straw because as a member of the greater Shiite confession in the Islamic world he was naturally allied with the Shiite regime of Iran. In part 2 we will take up the real reason for McCain’s War in Syria. It was a proxy war and a provocation designed to prosecute the real neocon target – the endlessly vilified Shiite regime in Tehran. Part 2 Syria was never meant to be a real country. Its borders were scratched on a map in 1916 by Messrs. Picot and Sykes of the French and British foreign office, respectively, and was an old-fashioned exercise in dividing the spoils of war amidst the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. It was most definitely not a product of what in the present era Imperial Washington is pleased to call “nation-building”. The short history of the next hundred years is that Syria never worked as a nation because the straight lines traced to the map by the Sykes-Picot ruler encompassed an immense gaggle of ethnic and sectarian peoples, tribes and regions that could not get along and had no common bonds of nationality. The polyglot of Sunni and Alawite (Shiite) Arabs, Sunni Kurds, Druse, Christians, Jews, Yazidis, Turkmen, and sundry more were kept intact under the unitary state in Damascus only due to a succession of strongmen and generals who took turns ruling the gaggle by bribe and sword. At length, Syria became a pawn in the cold war when the anti-communism obsessed Dulles brothers decided to stiff Colonel Nasser of Egypt for not sharing their Christian zeal against the godless rulers of the Kremlin. The latter then offered to build the Aswan Dam when Washington canned the funding. That led, in turn, to the short-lived Egypt-Syria merger, a failed CIA coup in Damascus and the eventual permanent alliance of Hafez Assad (Bashar’s father) with the Soviets after he consolidated power in the early 1970s. Whether Washington’s animosity to the Syrian regime owing to its choice of cold-war patrons ever made any difference to the security and safety of the American people is surely debatable, but when the cold war ended so should have the debate. Whatever happened in the polyglot of Syria thereafter had absolutely no bearing on the security of the American homeland – including indirectly via its nearby ally in Israel. That is, once the cold war was over and the Soviet Union descended into economic and military senescence after 1991, the Israelis had overwhelming military superiority over Damascus, and needed no help from Washington. But that pregnant opportunity for Washington to put Syria out of sight and out of mind entirely was killed in the cradle at nearly the moment it arose. In a word, the Washington War Party desperately needed an enemy once the Soviet Union was no more – in order to justify the massive girth of its global empire and the vastly elevated spending levels for conventional war-making (600 ship Navy, new tanks and fighters, airlift and cruise missiles etc.) that Ronald Reagan had unfortunately set in place. So the neocons in the administration of Bush the Elder seized on the Iranians. Needless to say, with memories of the prolonged hostage crisis in Tehran of a decade earlier still fresh in the memories of the American public, it was easy for Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, et al. to vilify Tehran as the seat of an America-hating Islamist theocracy. But so doing, they put America on the wrong side of the 1300-year old Sunni/Shiite divide. That’s because the minor sliver of Islam motivated by fanatical jihadism and the duty to eradicate nonbelievers and apostates is rooted in the Wahhabi branch of the Sunni confession and is domiciled in Arabia, not the Shiite communities on its periphery. The latter are spread in a crescent arcing from Iran through lower Iraq and extending to the Alawite and Shiite communities of Syria and southern Lebanon – including the territories dominated by Lebanon’s largest political party (Hezbollah). The 40 years prior to 1991 had given the Iranians plenty of cause to despise Washington, beginning with the CIA-sponsored coup against the democratically elected Mosaddeq in 1953. That move, in turn, paved the way for the rapacious and brutal regime of the Shah until 1978 when he was overthrown by a massive uprising of the Iranian people led by Shiite clerics. But to add insult to injury, the Reagan White House effected a "tilt" to Saddam Hussein after he invaded Iran in September 1980, and provided the satellite based tracking services that enabled Saddam’s horrific chemical attacks on Iranian troops in the field, many of them barely armed teenagers. So Tehran had valid reasons for its rhetorical assaults on Washington, but there was no symmetry to it. That is, Washington had no honest beef against Tehran, and no dog in the Sunni-Shiite fight. The only fig leaf of justification we’ve ever heard is that the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 by local Shiite militants was allegedly aided by the Iranians. But your editor sat on the national security council at the time and recalls vividly that Ronald Reagan’s decision was not to take the fight to Tehran, but to question why the Marines needed to be in harms’ way in the first place and to "reposition" them quickly to the safety of a Naval aircraft carrier deep in the Mediterranean In any event, the Iranians elected a moderate President in 1988, and Rafsanjani did seek rapprochement with Washington – even helping to free some American hostages in Lebanon as a good will gesture to the incoming George HW Bush Administration. But it was for naught once Cheney and his neocon henchman piled into the equation. The military-industrial complex needed an enemy and Cheney & Co. saw to it that the Shiite regime in Tehran became just that. And that get’s us to our Part 1 thesis about McCain’s War in Syria and its prototype in Charlie Wilson’s War in Afghanistan during the 1980s. In fact, the latter wasn’t just a model; it was the proximate cause. That is, Wilson’s War via the covert CIA training and arming of the Mujahedeen and the recruitment of Sunni Arab fighters from Saudi Arabia and other Sunni tribes ultimately gifted the world with al-Qaeda, but even then it took the feckless Imperial arm of Washington to complete the nightmare. Bin-Laden was actually celebrated as a hero in the West until 1991. Thereupon history flowed around a hinge point marked by the demise of the Soviet Union on one side and George HW Bush’s utterly pointless war against Saddam Hussein in February 1991 on the other. In this case Washington’s pretext for intervention was a petty squabble over directional drilling in the Rumaila oil field which straddled the border of Kuwait and Iraq. But there wasn’t an iota of homeland security at issue in that tiff between opulent Emir of Kuwait and the bombastic dictator from Baghdad. In fact, Kuwait wasn’t even a real country; it was (and still is) essentially a large bank account with its own oilfield that had been scratched on a map by the British in 1913 as part of its maneuvering for hegemony in the Persian Gulf region. Likewise, Iraq was also the product of the infamous Sykes-Picot straight-edged ruler of 1916, but the world price of oil would not have changed in the longer run by a single cent – whether Kuwait remained independent or was incorporated as the 19th province of the arbitrary but serviceable state of Baathist Iraq. Beyond the false case of oil economics was the even more ridiculous underlying proposition that the oilfield boundary in dispute – which had been haggled out in an Arab League meeting in 1960 – implicated the safety and security of American citizens in Lincoln NE and Springfield MA. No it didn’t – not in the slightest. But what did dramatically implicate their security was George HW Bush’s peevish insistence that Saddam be given a good, hard spanking, which resulted in 500,000 pairs of "crusader" boots on the sacred soil of Arabia. Right there bin-Laden swiveled on a dime and launched his demented crusade to rid the "land of the holy shrines" of the American occupation. Right there the mujahedeen became al-Qaeda, modern jihadi terrorism was born and the catastrophe of 9/11 and all that followed was set in motion. Yes, it took the even greater folly of Bush the Younger to actually light the fuse with his insensible and idiotic "shock and awe" demolition of Iraq after March 2003. But that did open the gates of Hell – even if the actual agents were the mujahedeen fighters and their followers and assigns who assembled in (Sunni) Anbar province after it was laid to waste by the Pentagon. In a word, Bush and his neocon warriors destroyed the serviceable state of Iraq and the tenuous Sunni/Shiite/Kurd modus vivendi that Saddam had enforced with the spoils of the oilfields and the superiority of his arms. In that context the idea that the government in Baghdad represented a nation and fielded an Iraqi national army was a sheer fairy tale. What Bush and Obama left behind was a vengeful, incompetent, corrupt sectarian government backed by sundry Shiite militia. To spend $25 billion – as Washington did – training and arming a ghost nation was an act of incomparable folly. It guaranteed a hot war between the Sunni and Shiite, and that the billions of state of the art weapons Washington left behind for the self-defense of the nation it hadn’t built would fall into the hands of the Sunni terrorists. At length, they did. The crucible of Anbar gave rise to ISIS and the tens of thousands of Humvees, tanks, heavy artillery pieces and millions of light weapons bivouacked in Mosul fell into its hands when the Shiite militias fled from Iraq’s second city and predominately Sunni enclave in June 2014. And then McCain’s proxy War in Syria against the Iranians did its part. That is, the Sunni villages and towns of the Euphrates Valley had always been the most tenuous components of the Assads’ system of rule. But when the McCain/CIA rebel armies badly impaired Assad’s military and economic capacity to pacify his country in the normal middle eastern manner of repression, a giant power vacuum was created into which ISIS rushed and from which the Islamic caliphate was born. In a word, Wilson’s War begat Sunni jihadism; HW Bush’s war turned it against America; Dubya’s War opened the gates of Hell in Anbar province; and McCain’s War enabled the destruction of the Syrian state and the rise of a medievalist chamber of butchery and demented Sharia extremism in Raqqa, Mosul and the hapless Sunni lands in between. At last, however, this chain of imperial pretense and insanity has been broken with a 140 character Tweet. Bravo, Donald! By sending the War Party into a paroxysm of denunciation and self-righteous indignation Trump actually provoked the Deep State into spilling the beans. To wit, its neocon megaphone at the Washington Post, David Ignatius, penned an unhinged column immediately after Trump’s tweet about ending "massive, dangerous, and wasteful payments to Syrian rebels fighting Assad", lamenting that the US hadn’t given jihadist "rebels" antiaircraft missiles! But in a full bore eruption of outrage, Ignatius also revealed new information based on a quote from an official with initimate knowledge of the CIA program: Run from secret operations centers in Turkey and Jordan, the program pumped many hundreds of millions of dollars to many dozens of militia groups. One knowledgeable official estimates that the CIA-backed fighters may have killed or wounded 100,000 Syrian soldiers and their allies over the past four years. Whether that was an exaggeration or proximate expression of the truth doesn’t really matter. It means Imperial Washington has been carrying on a world-scale war in Syria with not even the pretense of a Gulf of Tonkin Resolution or authorization for the use of force as in Iraq in 2003. So that’s McCain’s War. Eleven million refugees, a destroyed country, 400,000 civilians dead and a decimated army of a nation that poses a zero threat to the American homeland. And all for the purpose of hazing the rulers of Tehran who never did have a program to get a nuke, according to Washington’s own 17-agency NIEs (national intelligence estimates); and gave it up anyway with ironclad mechanisms for international enforcement. We have no idea where this will lead, but by the day it increasingly looks as if McCain’s War is indeed being shutdown. We can only hope for a respite to the folly, and that the Donald keeps on tweeting exactly this sort of madman’s stab at rationality.
Arif Rafiq Security, Middle East A contractor-led role in Afghanistan would confirm the narrative that America wants perpetual warfare and to rob the country of its riches. The New York Times reported on July 25, 2017 that U.S. advisors and Afghan officials are trying to use Afghanistan’s mineral wealth potential—once estimated at $1 trillion—to sell President Donald Trump on a war he understandably has little enthusiasm for. This new sales strategy is dangerous as it aims to exploit Trump’s cartoonish views on global intervention, which meld the minds of a medieval emperor and a modern-day businessman. Trump has on several occasions said that the United States should “take the oil” in conflict zones like Iraq. His explications have varied in focus, but “take the oil” appears to rest on two basic principles: what is theirs becomes ours once we invade; and foreign wars should at least pay for themselves, if not become profitable ventures. No Good Strategy Those who seek a long-term U.S. presence in Afghanistan are now desperate because the president has rejected the war strategy put forward by his bureaucracy and political appointees. According to POLITICO, the National Security Council Principals Committee meeting last week chaired by Trump was a “sh*tshow” that ended with the president sending back the Afghanistan strategy presented to him, further delaying a review that has already been extended twice. Read full article
When Russia warned on Friday that it would retaliate proportionately after it announced it would seize two diplomatic compounds used by the US in Russia and added that it would reduce the number of US diplomatic service staff in the country to equal the number of Russian diplomats in the US by September 1, calculated by the local press at 455, it wasn't joking. Moments ago, speaking in an interview on the Rossiya 1 TV channel, Vladimir Putin said that 755 American diplomats will be expelled, or as he phrased it "will have to leave Russia as a result of Washington's own policies", a move which as we previewed on Friday will make the diplomatic missions of Russia and the United States of equal staffing. Speaking late on Sunday, the Russian president said that the time for retaliation has come: "we've been waiting for quite a long time that maybe something would change for the better, we had hopes that the situation would change. But it looks like, it's not going to change in the near future... I decided that it is time for us to show that we will not leave anything unanswered." Putin added that "the personnel of the US diplomatic missions in Russia will be cut by 755 people and will now equal the number of the Russian diplomatic personnel in the United States, 455 people on each side" Putin said, adding that "because over a thousand employees, diplomats and technical personnel have been working and are still working in Russia, and 755 of them will have to cease their work in the Russian Federation. It’s considerable." Putin also told the Russian audience that "the American side has made a move which, it is important to note, hasn't been provoked by anything, to worsen Russian-US relations. [It includes] unlawful restrictions, attempts to influence other states of the world, including our allies, who are interested in developing and keeping relations with Russia," According to Reuters, Putin also said that Russia is able to impose additional measures against U.S. but he is against such steps for now. "We could imagine, theoretically, that one day a moment would come when the damage of attempts to put pressure on Russia will be comparable to the negative consequences of certain limitations of our cooperation. Well, if that moment ever comes, we could discuss other response options. But I hope it will not come to that. As of today, I am against it." As we reported late last week, following the House's approval of new sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea, the Russian foreign ministry told Washington to reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia, which currently includes more than 1,200 personnel, to 455 people as of September 1. The Russian order is likely to mean consular services in Russia will be “very hard hit,” Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow told Bloomberg. “Russians will have to wait much longer to get a visa,” he said by email. Furthermore, according to Bloomberg, Russia’s reaction was harsher than many officials had signaled, "and threatens to cast the two nuclear-armed powers into a fresh spiral of tensions, even as relations are already at their lowest since the Cold War." For Trump, the worsening conflict poses a dilemma between his oft-stated desire to build ties with Russia and mounting political opposition to that effort in Washington, amid congressional inquiries and an FBI investigation into interference in the elections and the Trump campaign’s possible ties with Russia. “Totally unwarranted, disproportionate move by the Kremlin,” Andrew Weiss, a former top Russia expert on the National Security Council and now vice-president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said on Twitter. * * * Today's expulsion comes one day after a bizarre statement by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who tried to to portray the latest round of Russian sanctions legislation as a sign Americans want Russia to improve relations with the US; it was promptly mocked by Moscow. On Saturday, Tillerson said the overwhelming House and Senate votes in favor of the sanctions “represent the strong will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States.” He added that he hoped potential future U.S.-Russia cooperation would make the sanctions unnecessary at some point. “We will work closely with our friends and allies to ensure our messages to Russia, Iran, and North Korea are clearly understood,” Tillerson’s statement concluded. Moscow, however, was less than thrilled with Tillerson's attempt to mitigate the latest round of anti-Russian sanctions, as the Russian Embassy in Washington said in a series of tweets that it was bewildered. “The statement made by the @StateDept on July 29 regarding a new sanctions legislation approved by Congress cannot but raise eyebrows,” it said. “Washington still doesn’t get the fact that pressure never works against @Russia, bilateral relations can hardly be improved by sanctions.” And now we await the US re-retaliation in what is once again the same tit-for-tat escalation that marked the latter years of the Obama regime, as the US Military Industrial Complex breathes out a sigh of relief that for all the posturing by Trump, things between Russia and the US are back on autopilot.
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea's rapidly accelerating nuclear weapons program is beginning to pose a grave challenge for liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in, whose dovish proposals for engagement have been met by silence and two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in less than a month.Throughout the election campaign and his presidency that began in May, Moon has persistently expressed a desire to reach out to North Korea. But in the wake of the North's latest ICBM test, a stern-looking Moon on Saturday sounded more like his conservative predecessor as he ordered his troops to conduct a live-fire exercise with U.S. forces and endorsed stronger pressure and sanctions against Pyongyang. He then told government officials to schedule talks with Washington over increasing the warhead limits of South Korean missiles.Moon also made a dramatic policy reversal, ordering his military to talk with U.S. commanders in South Korea to temporarily place additional launchers of a contentious U.S. missile defense system, which was seen as a sign that Moon was ready to get tougher on the North. He likely has no other choice as it is well past the point where Seoul could afford being seen as "begging" Pyongyang for talks, said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University and a policy adviser to Moon."Ministries related to foreign policy and security must work with our allies including the United States to ensure that today's provocation is met by a stern international response, such as U.N. Security Council measures," Yoon Young-chan, Moon's senior press secretary, quoted him as saying during a National Security Council meeting. Yoon said Moon also directed government officials to consider the possibility of unilateral sanctions against the North.Through statements released by his office and later by the Foreign Ministry, Moon's government made it clear it isn't giving up on the hopes for talks just yet. But Moon also said the North's latest launch has the potential to "fundamentally change" regional security dynamics and stressed the need for "strong and realistic measures" that could sting Pyongyang and repel its nuclear ambitions.Moon has criticized the hard-line policies under a decade of conservative rule in Seoul, which he says did nothing to prevent the North's progress in nuclear weapons and missiles and only reduced Seoul's voice in international efforts to deal with its rival.But some South Korean analysts believe Moon might end up in the same policy rut as his predecessor, Park Geun-hye, who initially vowed to show more flexibility in dealing with North Korea before it conducted two nuclear tests and began what has become a torrent of weapons tests in 2016. South Korea doesn't have many options for dealing with North Korea under ruler Kim Jong Un, who seems to have little interest in meaningful talks with Seoul before he reaches his desired goals in nuclear weapons and missiles, the experts say.Moon made his most ambitious proposals for engagement in the aftermath of North Korea's first ICBM test on July 4. He reaffirmed his commitment to dialogue in a speech in Berlin days after the launch and then came back to Seoul to propose military and Red Cross talks between the rivals to reduce animosities across their border and resume temporary reunions of aging relative separated by the 1950-53 Korean War. But the North spent the past weeks ridiculing Moon's comments and ignoring his talk proposals before conducting its second ICBM test Friday night."North Korea works with its own timetable that is dictated by its plans for nuclear weapons and missile development, and won't be influenced by any South Korean offer for talks or strengthening of sanctions," said Park Hyung-joong, a senior researcher at Seoul's Korea Institute for National Unification.Koh from Dongguk University expressed a similar view, saying that the ICBM tests clearly show that North Korea sees the current situation as a matter between Pyongyang and Washington, and not solvable at the inter-Korean level. He said it would be a mistake to continue seeing North Korea's missile tests as demonstrations aimed at wresting diplomatic concessions when the country is pursuing a real nuclear deterrent against the United States."Talks will be difficult. North Korea has yet to respond to the South's proposals and the South can't be seen begging for talks," Koh said. "The ball is now with the Trump administration and the situation will be determined by the options it takes ... All South Korea can do now is to conduct its own military drills to show force and strengthen its defense, such as implementing THAAD."Washington and Seoul originally planned to complete the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system by the end of the year. But after taking office in May, Moon had pushed back the deadline by introducing stricter environmental reviews on the site to ease the concerns of locals, who express fear over rumored health hazards linked to the system's radar. During the campaign, Moon had said that Seoul should reconsider the THAAD deployment because it has angered China, South Korea's biggest trade partner, which sees the system as a security threat.A THAAD battery consists of six launchers and currently two launchers are operational in rural Seongju. Moon's office said Saturday that the environmental reviews will go on as planned even after the four additional launchers are placed.
After being forced to recuse himself from his committee's investigation of the 'Russian meddling' controversy earlier this year (see: House Intel Committee Chair Nunes Recuses Himself From Russia Probe), Devin Nunes has thrust himself back into the national spotlight by drafting a letter to the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, saying he has evidence that several of Obama's top political aides made hundreds of unmasking requests in the waning days of Obama's administration even though they offered no legitimate reason to do so and some of them didn't even serve in an intelligence position. In Thursday’s letter, Nunes said the total requests for Americans’ names by Obama political aides numbered in the hundreds during Obama’s last year in office and often lacked a specific intelligence community justification. He called the lack of proper justifications a “serious deficiency.” His letter noted requests from senior government officials, unlike career intelligence analysts, “made remarkably few individualized justifications for access” to the U.S. names. “The committee has learned that one official, whose position had no apparent intelligence related function, made hundreds of unmasking requests during the final year of the Obama administration,” Nunes wrote. “Of those requests, only one offered a justification that was not boilerplate.” “We have found evidence that current and former government officials had easy access to U.S. person information and that it is possible that they used this information to achieve partisan political purposes, including the selective, anonymous leaking of such information." Of course, we pointed out last week (see: New Scapegoat Emerges In Unmasking Scandal: Meet Obama's Former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power) that the official "whose position had no apparent intelligence related function" was likely Obama's U.N. ambassador, Samantha Power. Power appears to be central to efforts by top Obama administration officials to identify individuals named in classified intelligence community reports related to Trump and his presidential transition team. If true, Power's role in the unmasking efforts would be particularly questionable since it's nearly inconceivable that her position as the U.N. ambassador would require such sensitive unmasking activities. "Unmasking is not a regular occurrence—absolutely not a weekly habit. It is rare, even at the National Security Council, and ought to be rarer still for a U.N. ambassador," according to one former senior U.S. official who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon. "It might be defended when the communication in question relates directly to U.N. business, for example an important Security Council vote," explained the former official, who would only discuss the matter on background. "Sometimes it might be done out of other motives than national security, such as sheer curiosity or to defend a bureaucratic position. Or just plain politics." The Intelligence Committee's focus of Power and other key Obama officials is a prime example of the Obama administration's efforts to spy on those close to Trump, according to sources familiar with the ongoing investigation. "The subpoena for Power suggests just how pervasive the Obama administration's spying on Americans actually was," said one veteran GOP political operative who has been briefed on the matter by senior Congressional intelligence officials. "The U.N. ambassador has absolutely no business calling for the quantity and quality of the intelligence that Power seems to have been asking for." "That's just not the sort of thing that she should have been concerned about, unless she was playing the role of political operative with the help of the intelligence community," the source said. "It gives away what was actually going on: the Obama administration was operating in a pervasive culture of impunity and using the intelligence community against their political opponents." So, you're saying that while Americans were being distracted with a barrage of "Russian meddling" stories, that Obama was working behind the scenes to transform our various intelligence agencies in this country into his very own political weapons of mass destruction? That sounds like a very serious 4th Amendment issue...we're starting to see what the FISA courts were getting at: "Since 2011, NSA's minimization procedures have prohibited use of U.S.-person identifiers to query the results of upstream Internet collection under Section 702. The October 26, 2016 Notice informed the Court that NSA analysts had been conducting such queries in violation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had previously been disclosed to the Court." "At the October 26, 2016 hearing, the Court ascribed the government's failure to disclose those IG and OCO reviews at the October 4, 2016 hearing to an institutional 'lack of candor' on NSA's part and emphasized that 'this is a very serious Fourth Amendment issue.'"
Trump denounces 'latest reckless and dangerous action' as US and South Korea conduct live-fire exercise in response. North Korea has launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, according to multiple military reports, just weeks after the country tested a similar projectile capable of hitting parts of the US. The US defence department said Friday's launch appeared to be that of a long-range ICBM. After South Korea's military and Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, confirmed the report, the governments in Seoul and Tokyo convened meetings of their national security councils. US President Donald Trump said the missile launch was "only the latest reckless and dangerous action by the North Korean regime". He said the US "will take all necessary steps to ensure the security of the American homeland and protect our allies in the region". Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesperson, said the launch took place at about 14:45 GMT from Mupyong-ni, an arms plant in northern North Korea. Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: http://www.aljazeera.com/
North Korea on Friday launched another ballistic missile that experts estimate had the reach to hit practically all of the major cities on the U.S. mainland.Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said the Defense Department detected the intercontinental ballistic missile launch at 10:41 a.m. Washington time. Launched from Mupyong-ni, he said, the missile traveled about 1,000 kilometers, or more than 600 miles, before coming down in the Sea of Japan.Following the launch, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford and U.S. Pacific Command chief Adm. Harry Harris called the South Korean Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Lee Sun Jin to discuss "military response options," Dunford spokesman Capt. Greg Hicks said.The missile, Davis said, "did not pose a threat to North America." Arms control experts, however, estimated the missile actually had a range of more than 10,000 kilometers — more than enough to hit the U.S. mainland. Jeffrey Lewis, director of the east Asia nonproliferation program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, said the latest missile was fired straight in the air. And judging by how high the missile went, how far it went and how long it flew, estimates show it could go from 10,800 to 12,000 kilometers on a standard trajectory. That means the missile could hit several major U.S. mainland cities, including Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, New York and Boston. Washington was estimated to be about 100 kilometers out of range.The BBC reported the launch of the missile — which landed in Japan’s territorial waters — is the 14th so far this year. The launch comes after The Washington Post reported the Defense Intelligence Agency has projected that North Korea was on track to field a nuclear-armed ICBM next year. On Capitol Hill, House Speaker Paul Ryan called North Korea "a global menace" and said the country's pursuit of a nuclear weapon that can strike the U.S. "poses clear and immediate danger to our national security.""We take this threat very seriously. That's why, earlier this week, a bipartisan majority of the House voted to sanction North Korea," he said. "The Kim regime needs to pay for its actions."Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, said the launch pointed to an even greater need for a response from the United Nations and additional sanctions against "those who enable the regime.""Sitting by and allowing these tests to continue is not an option," she said. Earlier this month, North Korea launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of more than 3,400 miles, long enough to reach Alaska or Hawaii, as well as several U.S. allies in the Pacific. That missile, which flew for 37 minutes, landed off the coast of Japan. The launches have caused concern among key members of Congress. House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said this week following a closed briefing on the country’s missile capabilities that he was growing “increasingly alarmed.”“For some time, and especially during the last eight years, we have neglected the nation’s missile defenses,” Thornberry said. “Now we face a growing threat with significant ground to make up.”
China opposes any unilateral sanctions imposed by any country outside the framework of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Friday.
The release of another batch of Hillary Clinton emails, courtesy of the State Department, provides an opportunity to glimpse inside the formation of the Obama administration's approach to Iran in the early days of his presidency. Several interesting emails in particular shed some light on the important role a pro-Iranian lobbying group played in shaping U.S. policy. In fact, given the smear merchants who constantly berate the "Jewish lobby" as being all-powerful in Washington, it turns out that the Iran lobby has been far more influential during the Obama presidency and that they've had the ear of key policymakers in the administration. As Hillary Clinton's emails demonstrate, a 10-page plan sent to her by four key members of The Iran Project provided the blueprint for America's strategy with Iran. Perhaps no one has taken a deeper dive into the Iran lobby than Lee Smith, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and senior editor of The Weekly Standard. In a series of articles he penned in his Tablet Magazine column, "Agents of Influence" in 2010, he explored the dueling Iran lobbies in detail, half a year after the protest movement in Iran was crushed by the regime. In "Iran's Man in Washington," Smith explored Flynt Leverett and his wife, Hillary Mann Leverett, whose main claim to fame rested on Flynt's access to the hard-line elements of the regime in Tehran and the couple's invention of a "grand bargain" offered by Iran in 2003. Smith explains that Flynt "was lionized by liberals for his opposition to the Bush administration's Iran policy." They blamed the Bush administration for not taking Iran up on their proposed "grand bargain." The problem was, as a former colleague on the National Security Council staff recalled, "It was either a concoction of the Swiss ambassador, or of the Swiss ambassador and the Leveretts together." Lee Smith elaborated: Although the legend of the Grand Bargain has been discredited, the tale--a narrative describing a sensible, realistic Iran eagerly courting a stubborn Washington, with the Leveretts in the middle of things--served its purpose. It not only identified the couple as critics of the Bush administration, it also certified them as experts about the Iranian regime--and as instruments through which the regime might influence Washington. Another pillar of the Iran lobby in Washington, Smith writes in "The Immigrant," is Trita Parsi, head of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), who became the face of the Iranian-American lobby in Washington. Unlike the Leveretts, Parsi "nurtured a relationship with regime insiders close to Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani--the so-called 'reformers' in Tehran--who have squared off against the faction favored by the Leveretts, which includes Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the Revolutionary Guard Corps." Trita Parsi came to the U.S. from Sweden in 2001, having left Iran when he was four years old, in 1978 before the Iranian revolution kicked into high gear. In 2002, he formed the NIAC "hoping to give voice not only to the diaspora's talents and resources but also its growing resentments." In a recent article, "Meet the Iran Lobby," Lee Smith described Parsi as "the tip of the spear of the Iran Lobby," who "won a defining battle over the direction of American foreign policy." Given the nuclear agreement reached in Vienna in July, there can be no doubt that Lee Smith is right. The Iran lobby has indeed become powerful in Washington's policy circles and at the highest levels of government. This is the story of another pillar of that lobby, The Iran Project, and the role they played in working with the Obama administration in its infancy to form an approach to Iran, as evidenced by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails. Determination in the Administration Preferring to eschew the hardball foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration, it's no secret that Obama believed he could catch more bees with honey. Shortly after taking office in 2009, the new president began a process of engagement with Iran that was ultimately designed to reestablish full U.S. diplomatic relations. A major Israeli newspaper, Maariv, reported that Washington was ready to hold senior level diplomatic contacts, agree to reciprocal visits, approve security cooperation between the countries, establish direct flights between the U.S. and Iran, and grant visas to Iranians wishing to visit the United States. Much to Obama's chagrin, the Iranians rejected the overture. President Obama, however, remained determined to strike a grand bargain with Iran. During his initial diplomatic outreach, thousands of Iranian protesters took to the streets to protest the fraudulent election results that reelected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The regime brutally cracked down on the protesters killing hundreds, and arresting and torturing thousands. But Obama was undeterred and kept engaging with the regime. Nor did he appear to re-think his approach few months later in September when the U.S., Britain, and France revealed that Iran was secretly building a uranium enrichment facility in a mountain near Qom that came to be known as the Fordow facility. Despite the failure of Obama's outreach in his first year and the clenched fist response offered by the regime in Tehran, the White House was still in need of a strategy with Iran. The blueprint that the Obama administration eventually adopted was one put out by the president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Stephen Heintz, and former ambassadors, William Luers, Thomas Pickering, and Frank Wisner. They are the key members of The Iran Project, a pro-Iran lobbying group "dedicated to improving the relationship between the U.S. and Iranian governments." The Iran Project Peter Waldman explained in an article for Bloomberg Politics that "for more than a decade they've conducted a dialogue with well placed Iranians, including Mohammad Javad Zarif," Iran's foreign minister and chief nuclear negotiator. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund spent millions of dollars since 2003 promoting a nuclear agreement with Iran, mainly through The Iran Project. After the 9/11 attacks, The Rockefeller Brothers Fund's president, Stephen Heintz, became more infatuated with Iran and he began thinking about "its geostrategic importance and its relation to the Sunni world," Heintz said. So he established The Iran Project in cooperation with the United Nations Association of the U.S. headed by William Luers. Luers made contact with Mohammad Javad Zarif through Iran's mission to the UN in New York. He also recruited career diplomats Thomas Pickering (who also serves on NIAC's Advisory Board) and Frank Wisner. They "developed a relationship with Zarif, who was stationed in New York representing Iran at the UN. In early 2002, The Iran Project set up a meeting with Iranians affiliated with the Institute for Political and International Studies in Tehran, a think tank with close government ties," Waldman explained. The secret meetings they held in European capitals stopped when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became Iran's president in 2005 but their relationship with Zarif proved to be lynchpin in getting negotiations underway when he was made foreign minister in 2013. Waldman quotes a State Department official saying that the administration welcomed backchannel efforts like The Iran Project's because "it proves useful both to have knowledgeable former officials and country experts engaging with their counterparts and in reinforcing our own messages when possible." But The Iran Project, which became an independent non-governmental entity as Barack Obama took office in 2009, did more than that for the State Department under Hillary Clinton. They provided the initial plan that as their website states, would "encourage greater cooperation between the U.S. and Iran for greater regional stability." In other words, early on in the Obama administration, the decision was made that a deal with Iran would be about more than their nuclear file. Toward a New Policy on Iran In December 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Under-Secretary of State William Burns met with Heintz, Luers, Pickering, and Wisner--four of the nine key leaders of The Iran Project. As Hillary Clinton's emails demonstrate, Pickering emailed her their 10-page plan that "provides fuller detail on the ideas we discussed" on December 22, 2010. Entitled, "Toward a New Policy on Iran," it provided the outline for U.S. policy toward the Islamic Republic. Indeed, most of the features contained in the plan are recognizable looking back at U.S. diplomacy since that time. It is, in essence, a document of America's surrender from the Middle East and acquiescence in Iran's dominance in the region. This policy prescription would set the table to discuss the terms of that surrender. "We propose that you urge the President to instruct you to open a direct relationship with Iran," their 2010 policy paper states. "The burden rests on the U.S. to convince an uncertain Iranian leadership to come out of its shell." That required written assurances that the Obama administration would not seek a policy of regime change. Mr. Obama sent Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei a letter early in his first term and many more followed between either Khamenei or President Rouhani after his 2013 election. To start off on the right foot with Iran, President Obama "must find a way to communicate directly with the Supreme Leader a U.S. desire to open official talks" and it should be conducted through a personal emissary he appoints to deliver oral messages. According to Israel's biggest-selling daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, Barack Obama dispatched a personal emissary to a series of secret meetings in the late summer and autumn of 2012 to meet with "Iranian officials led by a personal representative of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei." Obama's emissary was his special adviser, Valerie Jarrett, a Chicago lawyer and close friend of Mr. Obama, born in Shiraz, Iran, to American parents. The paper described her as "a key figure in secret contacts the White House is conducting with the Iranian regime." What Obama's emissary should call for "in a respectful tone" is mutual recognition of the other's legitimate interests in the area. That means before any discussions would commence, the U.S. would have to recognize as legitimate, Iran's reach into Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, to the Mediterranean Sea. In other words, the United States should sign up to legitimize the export of the Islamic Republic's revolution, a central raison d'être of the regime that emerged after the 1979 revolution. A thaw in relations must precede progress on the nuclear deal, this Iran lobby argued, because one of the consequences of continuing with the current policy "will be the missed opportunity to engage Iran in a long tem constructive regional strategy." Indeed, with Iran acting as America's partner in the Middle East, there will be an opportunity to help establish "a regional security structure aimed at giving Iran and the Gulf states a greater sense of stability." This would allow the U.S. and Iran "to develop together approaches to... eventually weaken Iran's support for Hamas and Hezbollah." This, of course, is akin to discussing fire safety measures with the neighborhood's leading arsonist. Therefore, the U.S. should immediately redeem Iran, end its isolation, and cooperate with the regime in Tehran on other issues of mutual interest before discussing the nuclear program directly: "A U.S. offer to cooperate with Iran as an equal partner on one or more non-nuclear issues will set the stage for [sic] more fruitful discussion of the nuclear issue. The U.S. will improve markedly chances to get Iran to deal seriously with the nuclear issues by starting with an offer to cooperate on other problems in the region." That is precisely what the Obama administration has been at pains to avoid saying publicly--that the U.S. has acted as Iran's air force in Iraq in an effort to rollback the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS. As Lee Smith reported in Tablet Magazine in May 2014: In Lebanon, the U.S. intelligence community has teamed up with the Lebanese Armed Forces' military intelligence, essentially now a subset of Hezbollah, to fight Sunni extremists. In Iraq, the administration has dispatched arms to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, another Iranian asset who is allied with groups that have killed American soldiers, like Asaib Ahl a-Haq, to support his counter-insurgency against Sunni fighters. Regarding the nuclear negotiations themselves, the plan's authors called on the administration to adopt an approach that would provide for Iran's enrichment under international supervision and would eliminate any suggestion that Iran suspends either its enrichment or its manufacturing of key components for their nuclear facilities as a precondition for any progress toward direct talks. And finally, once they begin to negotiate directly with each other, the U.S. should set aside the "zero enrichment preconditions for any progress in the talks." That means shredding the previous six UN Security Council resolutions aimed at stopping Iran's nuclear program and offering upfront to Iran the right to enrich uranium on its own soil. Most critics of the nuclear pact reached in July consider the original sin to be Obama's concession to Iran that they would be allowed to complete the full nuclear cycle on their own soil. What the Fatwa? Picking up on the Iran lobby's paper, another key talking point the Obama administration relied on is an understanding that "the Leader's fatwa against the building or use of nuclear weapons could establish an excellent basis for discussions with the aim of agreement for greater IAEA access to Iran's nuclear program to assure the world about Iran's nuclear intentions and develop an arrangement regarding enrichment." This nuclear fatwa, however, is a canard and a hoax. It is "nothing more than a propaganda ruse on the part of the Iranian regime," according to many analysts including the Middle East Media Research Institute. Nevertheless, it has been frequently cited by the administration and repeated by Mr. Obama in his March 2015 annual statement to Iran marking the Persian new year. And the IAEA now has secret side deals with Iran for inspections with holes so big one could drive a rundown Iranian Saipa through. To top it all off, The Iran Project policy plan also called for "mutual recognition that both leaders of the U.S. and Iran have stated publicly their desire for a world without nuclear weapons." That was designed to send a shot over Israel's bow--an assumed nuclear weapons program that sparked no regional nuclear arms race such as Iran's today. True to form, with the July nuclear deal sealed and in the rearview mirror, Mohammad Zarif penned an article in The Guardian, "Iran has signed a historic nuclear deal--now it's Israel's turn." Iran's Success at America's Expense If the Obama administration did not adopt this plan in its entirety, then it would be an impressive coincidence that just about all of the proposals in The Iran Project's blueprint were adopted and the predictable outcome is the shameful and harmful nuclear deal with Iran. It's not just that the Obama administration was willing to adopt the deal; it's the workman-like salesmanship of the deal that Mr. Obama is engaged in. Despite poll after poll indicating that the more Americans learn about the deal, the less they like it--with a two-to-one margin currently opposed--President Obama has stood resolute. Instead of explaining that the deal wasn't perfect but it was the best he could negotiate and it meets U.S. security needs, or acknowledging that his critics have some good points (since they're based on the President's broken promises) and working to make a few unilateral adjustments that would set more minds at ease, he has chose a different path. He offered no quarter, likening the experts who came out against the agreement to "Lobbyists and pundits" who "were suddenly transformed into arm-chair nuclear scientists." Then, he labeled them "the crazies." In a manner befitting of former CIA Director George Tenet's "slam dunk" prognosis in the run up the 2003 Iraq war, Obama even declared: "I've had to make a lot of tough calls as President, but whether or not this deal is good for American security is not one of those calls. It's not even close." The crystal clear reality is that the Obama administration is not just onboard with the Iran lobby's positions, but he has bought it all--hook, line, and sinker. Whether the inception of the idea began before he came to Washington, or whether The Iran Project, the National Iranian American Council, or the likes of the Leveretts cemented the approach he would adopt during negotiations, one thing is certain: The nuclear deal with Iran is a boon for all involved other than the U.S. and its allies in Israel and the wider Middle East. It marks America's definitive shift away from its traditional regional allies and defines a new relationship with a former adversary that is unfortunately based on hope rather than experience. The Iran lobby will no doubt celebrate this and build on their quiet and impressive success. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. 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